LINE FRIENDS wins prestigious licensing awards

Mobile messenger LINE turns virtual stickers into commercially valuable intellectual property, winning two awards from the licensing industry.

Words by Imagine TV Network

LINE FRIENDS, the character brand of communications application LINE, was first introduced to users in the form of stickers that they could send to friends they were messaging through the application. The sticker shop offers over 20,000 sets of stickers, some of them exclusive to and specially designed for the application.

Its original eight characters -- Brown, Cony, Sally, Leonard, James, Jessica, Boss and Edward -- was later developed into over 3,300 types of character merchandise, including clothing, stationery and household products.

Image credit: LINE

On 12th January 2015, LINE FRIENDS was awarded "Best Asian Property of the Year" by LIMA Asian Licensing Awards and a day later, it was named as the "Best Asian Property" by Asian Licensing Awards, which was hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Simeon Cho, General Manager of LINE Business Development Division, LINE PLUS Corporation, said of the double win, "Winning both the LIMA and ALA is such a great honor as they are considered the Oscar Awards of the character business. To return the love we have received from our fans, we will continue to offer a greater variety of LINE FRIENDS products in many more places around the world."

In an email interview with Imagine TV Network, he says there are multiple factors that brought LINE its success in Asia. "LINE offers the ultimate lifestyle platform that users need in their daily lives," he remarks. As of October 2014, the platform had 170 million monthly active users in 230 countries.

LINE stickers evolved from the trend the company noticed about the use of emoticons, abbreviations and acronyms in the mobile environment. "We captured these trends and moved one step further – that’s LINE stickers," he notes. "We made a bold decision to twist the faces of our mascot characters into various expressions, enabling them to speak the users’ many feelings." LINE users can also create and sell their original stickers creation through the LINE Creators Market.

To help users go beyond only using the application for chatting, 72 LINE Family apps, such as its own camera app, a dedicated selfie camera app, and various LINE games, were released. The feature of Official Accounts was also added, allowing brands and celebrities to connect and communicate directly with users.

Cho adds that localization is one of LINE's key strategies and uses the Singlish stickers that were rolled out in Singapore as an example. "As a life platform, it is more important for LINE to reflect each region’s different consumer lifestyle." To continue their growth in the market, he says an increasing number of localized service will be planned for each region.




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